I woke up this morning and told myself, “Jon, you are not going to write about Nail Yakupov’s goal celebration today.” And then, of course, this being a hockey-mad city and major Canadian media center, nearly every locker room scrum I was in contained multiple angles and questions centered around the celebration. So here we are. I see no problem with how Yakupov, a 19-year-old teenager, decided to celebrate his second professional goal and one that tied the game at home with five seconds remaining in regulation. It’s why EA Sports’ NHL series has the post-goal celebration button that allows you to slide on your knees on the ice after scoring: what would hockey be without passion?
Stir me if he decides to celebrate like that tonight. This only becomes an issue if he shows a penchant for continually showing his opponents up, which he has hasn’t done. Hit the jump for some interesting takes.
Kings Head Coach Darryl Sutter, on whether the celebration “a big deal”:
“If you score, you get the right to celebrate. If you don’t, you don’t.”
Oilers Head Coach Ralph Kruger, on if he would be angry if he was on the other bench:
“Not at all. I don’t think it’s a factor at all. I think they don’t like where they are in the standings. I don’t think they liked what happened in the Chicago game. That’s what I would be angry about, and I’m sure they are too. Our game against them here was just a real special hockey game with the exuberance of a young player celebrating something very special happening in his life. That was all that was, and I don’t think there was anybody in that L.A. Kings room feeling any anger towards that kid. I really don’t. I don’t think it’s a factor. I think it’s more of where they are right now in their season. We have to be aware [of] how great that team is and how dangerous they can be in this situation.”
Jarret Stoll, on the celebration:
“It was a big goal for him. He got those two points out of the deal. He’s an exciting player, loves to score goals. That’s all I’ll say about it. We’re focusing on tonight’s game, and what happened last game is obviously out of the memory.”
Drew Doughty, on whether the celebration was really “an issue”:
“I don’t know if it’s an issue. Obviously, being on the opposing team, you don’t want to see a guy celebrate right in front of your bench down the ice like that. But, you know, whatever. It’s in the past now. I’m sure no one’s going to be soft on him, that’s for sure, after doing that. We’re going to play him hard and make clean hits. It’s in the past now, and we’d like to get back.”